Rabbit pulls Grand out of hat
LISA Smith believes independent theatre is about pushing boundaries – and that’s exactly what the local director has done with new ‘‘dark and unnerving’’ Gold Coast play The Grand. The White Rabbit Theatre Ensemble production was developed from the ground up by Smith, Brisbane-based playwright Victoria Carless and the play’s stars, Anna Mowry and Tammy Weller. The Grand follows the story of two women running a once very grand hotel, but not everything is as it seems. The plot unfolds as the women draw increasingly on games and dreams and memory as they wait for their guests to arrive. Smith says strong and interesting themes manifested in The Grand as a result of the four women being involved in the creative development. ‘‘Victoria and I went to university together and we are actually old and dear friends,’’ she says. ‘‘We wanted to collaborate as a directorplaywright team. Victoria gets full credit but we were all involved in planting the seeds. The actor’s feel really helped shape the characters.’’ The Grand debuted on a Townsville stage two weeks ago to high acclaim. Smith says the ‘‘creepy interesting little piece’’ is sweet and sad with elements of dark humour. ‘‘There are lots of layers in the play, the actors will concur with me on that one,’’ she says. ‘‘There isn’t one particular message but it does explore the idea of belonging. There’s a sense of play between these two women. They have to entertain themselves, so they play, which is quite funny.’’ The set design of The Grand is by Luke Ede and Smith says it has a ‘‘dark, gothic, moody’’ feel. ‘‘The set and costumes have a really muted palette – as though things were once bright but they have faded away a little bit,’’ she says. ‘‘It has been really nice to have just two actors on stage. The girls actually have a friendship outside of the play which brings a beautiful warmth to the friendship of the characters.’’ A feeling of ‘‘timelessness’’ ticks throughout the play, and Smith says Carless has a poetic form in her language which doesn’t belong to a specific era. ‘‘There’s great opportunity for this play to continue and have real life after this season,’’ she says. Most of all, Smith hopes The Grand is a conversation starter. ‘‘It’s the sort of play we want people to talk about after they see it,’’ she says. ‘‘I hope that people really want to dissect what they have just seen.’’
– ROSE SADLEIR
The Grand plays The Space, at The Arts Centre Gold Coast Plays Thursdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm from tonight until November 23. Tickets are $12-$27.
The Grand. – Picture: AARON ASHLEY
Tammy Weller in a scene from